Chapter 33 - V. I. P.
In front of the entrance to the sports stadium located near the city center, a crowd was gathered as more and more people arrived at the venue. There were still two hours left before the start of the music festival and yet there was already a considerable crowd waiting.
Security checks were conducted with added rigorousness as the shooting incident that had occurred a day earlier had a left impact on the police force. Despite the grim happenings, the enthusiasm of those who were here to enjoy themselves did not dwindle in the slightest.
The side-exit of the stadium served as an entrance for special guests. Unlike the main entrance, it was deserted. A young employee scratched her head as she looked at rather short-man in front of him, who was dressed in a worn-out cotton jacket and carried a knit bag with him.
“Sir, this is the entrance for special guests. You’ll need a different ticket. You have to enter through the main entrance. Also, we’ll help clean up the empty bottles left in the venue after the show…” The employee answered politely and the man looked like someone who scavenged recyclables for a living.
“Is this the right ticket?” The man smiled and took out a ticket.
“Oh?” The employee was surprised as the ticket did look authentic.
“Please wait for a second,” Although she had her doubts about how a homeless-looking man was able to acquire a ticket costing almost ten thousand yuan, she still proceeded to scan the ticket and verified the code.
A beeping sound was heard as the ticket was successfully verified.
“What’s happening? Get out of here!” Before the employee could return the ticket to the man, a muscular man arrived at the scene. He towered over the skinny man as he accosted him.
“Captain, he has a ticket.” The young employee showed the ticket to her supervisor.
“What?” The captain was stunned.
“And you verified it?” The captain had a hard time believing it.
“Tell me, how did you get your hands on this?” The captain snatched the ticket and looked at the man as he was still unwilling to believe that the latter could ever afford such an expensive item.
“I bought a bottle of water last month, and the owner of the supermarket said I won a prize. Am I at the wrong place?” The skinny man explained.
“Of course…” The captain pursed his lips and scrutinized the short man. He picked up the scanner and verified the ticket again.
“Hey, you! Check him thoroughly.” The captain turned toward a security guard, having nothing to say about the authenticity of the ticket. The guard walked up with a metal detector, which was an unusual treatment, to say the least, for VIP guests. The skinny man obeyed the guard’s instructions as he raised his arms for the check-up.
“Clear.” Aside from abnormally firm muscles, the bodyguard could not find anything worth mentioning.
“What’s inside?” The captain suddenly turned his attention toward the man’s bag.
“It’s empty.” The man showed the inside of the bag to the captain.
“What are you doing with this?” The captain suddenly asked.
“Nothing. I’m just used to having it with me,”
“Alright. You can go in, but the bag stays here.” The captain snorted in discontent and said before turning around.
“I’m sorry, why is it that I can’t bring the bag inside?” The man asked.
“I said it, that’s why. Either you get in without the bag, or you get out of here,” The captain suddenly burst out. He had a sour feeling about the shabby-looking man being fortunate enough to win a VIP ticket to the festival.
“Could you explain? Why is it that I can’t bring a bag inside?” The man insisted while keeping his smile.
“Explain? Look, if you get inside looking like someone who’s scavenging, then you’ll ruin the mood of our important guests. Do you really think of yourself as being a valued guest just because you have that ticket? I’ve decided to let you inside out of kindness,” The captain turned around and said in a menacing voice.
“Kindness… Well, it has been a long time since I’ve heard that.” The skinny man mumbled as he seemed to be reminiscing about something.
Just at that moment, a group of people arrived at the scene. Leading the group was a handsome young man with a beard, who was supporting an old man. Behind them were several followers who seemed to be the old man’s assistants. Their movements were elegant, their airs proud, but not overly so, just as one would expect from the elites of society.
“Get out of the way, I’ll deal with you later.” The captain instantly put on a radiant smile and went on to greet the newly arrived guests. He signaled to the security guard, who stepped in front of the skinny man and hid him with his large frame.
“Sir, you can rest a bit over there.” The young girl who verified the man’s ticket at first pulled him over and offered him an employee’s plastic chair to sit on.
“You’re a kind one.” The man smiled as he sat down.
“Our captain is only trying to do his job. At worst, I’ll keep your bag and give it to you when you come out,” The girl said. She tried as hard as she could to make the experience enjoyable for the man, as she thought of this as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the latter.
The captain was far too absorbed by the arrival of the new guests to pay attention to what was happening behind him. The old man who led the group seemed like an authoritative figure who undoubtedly controlled great wealth. Once the old man stood about a dozen meters away from the ticket gate, he bowed in the direction of the entrance. After the salutation, instead of progressing forward, he simply stood still and waited.
The captain felt intimidated by the display of respect, but then his heart was inundated by contentment as he thought of himself as being the recipient of the salutation.
“No need for such respect, please, come in!” The captain approached the group with a broad grin, his face flushed with excitement.
“Leave!” The handsome young man with a goatee suddenly snorted in discontent. The unexpected shout made the captain tremble with fear.
“I…” The captain stood dumbly in place as his back became soaking wet with cold sweat.
The group led by Mr. Xie waited silently until another group of four arrived. At the head was a man dressed in a blue shirt, who wore a rosewood wooden bracelet. Walking hand-in-hand with him was a woman dressed in a traditional dress. Behind them was an innocent-looking teenage girl in a wheelchair. She had long, silky black hair and was pushed by a lean man.
“Mr. Xie,” Stargaze greeted the old man.
“Oh? What a pleasure! Ms. Wang and Mr. Li. Please,” The old man smiled and moved to the side to let them through.
“So he was waiting for them!” The captain thought that he had finally figured out the situation and forced a smile to welcome the next group of guests, but Stargaze’s group also curiously stopped a few meters in front of the gates. Refusing to move forward an inch more.
‘What is happening?’ The captain was bewildered as to whom the newly arrived group could have possibly wanted to salute. Aside from himself, there were only three people near the entrance: the young employee, a security guard, and a homeless-looking man.